Manduca contactin regulates amyloid precursor protein-dependent neuronal migration

Jenna M. Ramaker, Tracy L. Swanson, Philip F. Copenhaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Amyloid precursor protein (APP) was originally identified as the source of β-amyloid peptides that accumulate in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but it also has been implicated in the control of multiple aspects of neuronal motility. APP belongs to an evolutionarily conserved family of transmembrane proteins that can interact with a variety of adapter and signaling molecules. Recently, we showed that both APP and its insect ortholog [APPL (APP-Like)] directly bind the heterotrimeric G-protein Goα, supporting the model thatAPPcan function as an unconventional Goα-coupled receptor. We also adapted a well characterized assay of neuronal migration in the hawkmoth, Manduca sexta, to show that APPL–Goα signaling restricts ectopic growth within the developing nervous system, analogous to the role postulated for APP family proteins in controlling migration within the mammalian cortex. Using this assay, we have now identified Manduca Contactin (MsContactin) as an endogenous ligand for APPL, consistent with previous work showing that Contactins interact with APP family proteins in other systems. Using antisense-based knockdown protocols and fusion proteins targeting both proteins, we have shown that MsContactin is selectively expressed by glial cells that ensheath the migratory neurons (expressing APPL), and that MsContactin–APPL interactions normally prevent inappropriate migration and outgrowth. These results provide new evidence that Contactins can function as authentic ligands for APP family proteins that regulate APP-dependent responses in the developing nervous system. They also support the model that misregulated Contactin–APP interactions might provoke aberrant activation of Goα and its effectors, thereby contributing to the neurodegenerative sequelae that typify AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8757-8775
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 17 2016


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Embryo culture
  • G-protein
  • Model system
  • Neuronal guidance
  • Neuronal–glial signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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